2015 was the year I fell in love with travel. I said yes to more adventures, explored new places and cultures, revisited some familiar sights, and met the most amazing travelers along the way.
I included below the accommodations where we stayed that, I believe, are budget friendly. My usual budget for a night’s stay (local or international) is around ₱400-₱700. I don’t mind indulging myself once in a while, but for now, I enjoy budget travel.
₱ = Philippine peso
January: Cebu and Bantayan Island, Philippines
Me and my travel buddy Ellen flew to Cebu for a New Year’s trip. Her friends from Cebu joined and showed us around. Thanks Poy, Franco and Liezel!
We were supposed to go to Bohol for a side trip, but after realizing that riding on the ferry is pricey, we agreed that Bantayan Island was more feasible.
When we arrived, we had no other companions except the dogs. We had drinks under the stars while listening to Ed Sheeran. What more could we ask for?
We explored Bantayan the next day, then headed back to Cebu.
Cebu – Sampaguita Suites (Standard Double)
Bantayan Island – Beach Placid Resort (Double Room, Non-Beachfront)
January: Ilocos, Philippines
My family and I went to Ilocos during the Papal visit holiday. Every place was filled with tourists, but still breathtaking.
Accommodation: Northview Hotel (Family Room)
April: Boracay, Philippines
Me and my travel buddy went to Boracay for Holy Week. Considering it was peak season, I still scored us each a ₱780 (around US$16.6) one way ticket to Caticlan, then a ₱820 return trip to Manila via Kalibo airport. Still a great deal, right?
Accommodation: MNL Beach Hostel Boracay (1 Bed in 8-Bed Mixed Dorm)
May: Liwliwa, Zambales, Philippines
This was a spontaneous trip with my travel buddy. She texted me if I wanted to stay overnight in Liwliwa, Zambales. And I automatically agreed. Liwliwa is more of a surfers haven, but we just needed to get away from the city.
Accommodation: The Circle Hostel (Hammock)
June: Davao, Philippines
Me and my travel buddy went nature tripping and beach hopping in Davao and Samal Island. We were able to go to Isla Reta, Kaputian, and Dahican beaches.
Also, I must say, I’ve met the nicest and most welcoming people in Davao! Thanks to Warj for helping us with our itinerary, a Davao local we met in 2014 on a trip to Sagada.
Accommodation: Tune Hotel / Red Planet Davao (Twin Room)
September: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
I explored Kuala Lumpur with my great friends Kym and Dean. Kym’s best friend, Marfel, joined us as well. Between the hilarious airport mishaps, food hunting, extreme rides, endless laughter, and inside jokes, there was never a dull moment!
Travel Tip: if you’re going to Sunway Lagoon, book your tickets online to get around ₱500 off per person.
Accommodation: D’ Garden Boutique Hotel (Family Triple Room)
September: Bali, Indonesia
Me and my travel buddy agreed that we would love to go to Bali in the future. One night, while looking for flights, I stumbled upon a ₱3730 round trip ticket to Bali. I freaked out, of course, then booked two tickets in a heartbeat!
The trip was magical. Everything was so beautiful. I can’t wait to go back this 2016!
Accommodation: Coco Beach Hostel (Twin Room)
October: Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Me and my travel buddy flew to Kota Kinabalu during the course of Typhoon Lando in the Philippines. Since Kota Kinabalu is just a 2-hour flight from Manila, I believe it was the reason why the weather was all gloomy. I think this is one downside of booking tickets early, though it’s cheaper, you have no idea of the weather condition months ahead. You could rebook your flights, of course, but there are corresponding charges.
What made our trip still special was our stay in SKYPOD. I greatly appreciate the warm hospitality we received. Definitely, the best hostel I’ve stayed in 2015! We also met a Korean traveler in the hostel who is currently living in the Philippines. He was kind enough to show us around because he arrived a day ahead of us.
Accommodation: SKYPOD Hostel (Single Pod – Mixed Dorm)
November: Boracay, Philippines
My first solo trip was to Boracay. I chose a local destination so I could at least get the hang of solo traveling. I booked my flight on November 2014 (a year ahead!), just so I could prepare. I was terrified of the idea, but still booked it anyway.
Then came November 2015. I saw Boracay in a new light. I met a lot of travelers, and even shared activities (ATV and zipline) with one of them. There is something empowering about traveling solo. I’m glad I did it, and I’d do it again.
Accommodation: YB Hostel (1 Bed in 6-Bed Male Dormitory)
December: El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
Me and my travel buddy were excited because El Nido was both part of our bucket list, and our round trip airfare to Puerto Princesa was only ₱705 each! The round trip van transfers (PPS-El Nido-PPS) was more pricey by a few bucks!
A few days before our flight, Typhoon Nona entered the Philippine area of responsibility. Great timing, huh? Still, it was all sunny when we got to Palawan. We were hopeful that the good weather would persist until a few hours later, there was a sudden downpour. The Coast Guard cancelled all boat tours, so we were left with no choice but to avail inland tours. We weren’t disappointed as our awesome guide Kuya Ben brought us to different breathtaking views! You can contact him at +639187091739 for El Nido inland tours.
The next day, the sea was still angry but the tours proceeded. We joined “Tour A” which included beaches and lagoons. It was not a smooth sail, and we all joked about how we were like castaways in a reality show. We had picnic over a campfire on one of the islands because it was freezing cold (wind and rain combo)! This is definitely an interesting experience that I would never forget.
Philippine weather during the last quarter of the year is absolutely unpredictable so I’m looking forward to return to El Nido during the summer.
Accommodation: Our Melting Pot Hostel (1 Bed in 7-Bed Mixed Dorm Aircon)
This has been my 2015 in travels. There might have been unexpected circumstances at times, but what matters is that I learned new things, and made new friends.
I still have a long list of places I want to go, but it feels like I’m on cloud nine to tick off some more without breaking the bank. I am looking forward to what 2016 holds! More travels for all of us!